Kris and I have both remarked recently how pleasant these past few weeks have been. Generally, December seems less magical than chaotic. This year, however, we've been pleased to spend quality time with the important people in our life.
Friend Thanksgiving was a harbinger for the entire holiday season.
Early in December, Kris and I hosted our eleventh annual Friend Thanksgiving. This event has become one of the highlights of our year. We spend months constructing the menu. We meticulously plan the guest list for maximum jovial interaction. We work for days to prepare the house and the food.
This year's gathering, I'm pleased to say, was a smashing success.
We actually hosted a small, test dinner early in November. Andrew and Courtney were expecting Henry soon, and Dave and Karen would be out of town (plus, Dave's allergies play havoc with any menu). We invited these two couples to test our recipes. It helped. We were able to makes some minor adjustments to improve a couple of the dishes.
What did we eat this year? We had:
- A bread plate featuring three tapenades: black olive, green olive, and sun-dried tomato.
- A lovely impromptu salad of spinach, smoked salmon, and hard-boiled egg.
- Carrot soup with nutmeg créme fraiche and grated orange zest.
- Pepper encrusted beef tenderloin with chives and buttered new potatoes.
- A nice cheese plate with double gloucester (my favorite cheese) and havarti, served with honey, apples, and pistachios.
- A dark chocolate truffle tart with whipped marscapone, and a maple pecan crisp.
Despite the obligatory fight over the table layout (can any couple set up tables for a dinner party without fighting?), we arrived at a splendid seating arrangement. We were not disappointed. Our guests were jocular and verbose, easily becoming acquainted with even those whom they had not previously met.
The evening was warm, the atmosphere genial, the food delicious.
(For more on this dinner party, see Lisa's picture-filled entry.)
The holiday season began well when our family Thanksgiving was enjoyable instead of a chore. Since Tony has left the business, we see little of him. His presence is now a special occasion instead of a daily occurrence. The food was good, and the conversation relaxed and friendly (instead of forced). It was nice.
We've also participated in a number of successful dinner parties during the past month, including Craig's birthday party, our Friend Thanksgiving, Mac and Pam's Christmas Eve Eve gathering, and a lovely meal with the MNF group at the Rose of Sharon in Silverton. We've been to a couple of Christmas parties, and a smallish family reunion, all of which were low-key and fun.
And through it all, we've found time to visit with friends one-on-one. Kris saw Linda and Coleen, former co-workers and good friends. We had a fantastic meal at Paley's Place with Paul and amy Jo last week. Dana was in town this weekend; Andrew and I spent the afternoon with her, discussing our lives and needling each other.
This holiday season has, for once, been memorable.
Our family Christmas was, by tradition, on Christmas Eve day.
Kris and I spent a quiet Christmas Day together. We slept in. We did a few chores. We petted the cats. We made a beef stew. And we watched a lot of movies.
Since I happened to get Meet Me in St. Louis, one of Kris' favorite holiday films, in my stocking (thanks, parents-in-law!), we watched it in the afternoon. We also watched Love Actually, which is — perhaps surprisingly — one of my favorite holiday films. It's a silly movie on many levels, yet ultimately I love its theme: that love is a complicated thing, capable of manifesting itself in many, many different forms. In the evening, before bed, we watched the decidedly non-holiday It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.
It was a very nice Christmas.
It's been a lovely holiday season.